What is Ally?
Ally is a tool within Canvas that provides instructors with feedback to help them enhance the usability and accessibility of their course materials. It also generates alternative formats of course content, providing students access to a greater and more effective variety of resources for learning.
How does Ally work?
For instructors, Ally evaluates uploaded documents, Canvas pages, assignments, images and videos for accessibility. It identifies any content that doesn't adhere to the latest accessibility guidelines in the “Ally Course Accessibility Report” tab of the Canvas course and provides instructions for how to improve that content. It’s important to note that steady improvement, not immediate perfection, is the goal.
For students, Ally provides alternative formats of most course materials to support learners’ needs and preferences. Options include: tagged PDFs, HTML, ePub, electronic Braille, audio, and even translations. Ally does all the work–no action is required on the part of instructors.
What are the Benefits of Ally?
Although Ally is designed with the needs of students with disabilities in mind, it’s actually a tool that has the potential to impact the experience of all students. The availability of alternative formats enables students to choose the file type that best suits their learning needs, accounting for temporary or undiagnosed conditions, and helping students who may not be native speakers of the target language.
Additionally, the accessibility checker tools help instructors ensure that their course materials are inclusive of all students. Removing barriers to access supports students in focusing on their learning and the pursuit of their educational goals.
Faculty play an essential role in the development of inclusive learning environments, and there are many offices available to support them in this work. Best practices for access, equity, inclusion and belonging are available from colleagues in SJSU’s Accessibility Education Center, Center for Faculty Development and eCampus and Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. For particular questions related to Ally, including how to revise course materials for greater accessibility, please open an iSupport Ticket.
Going forward, our usage of Ally will support San José State University’s mission to serve all students equitably and inclusively.